What is a Welfare State?
The United States, like many industrialized and developed nations, provides a variety of services to its citizens through the use of taxes. This makes the United States a partial welfare state. A welfare state, in the purest sense, is a government that provides for the general well-being of its citizens completely.
Pure welfare governments are involved in their citizens’ lives at every level possible. They provide items that meet the physical, material, and social needs of the citizens rather than allowing the people to provide for their own. While many argue that this encourages dependence and a lack of a work ethic, the purpose is really to establish economic equality and ensure that everyone lives at the same level.
Through both price and wage controls, a pure welfare state will provide:
- Food and water
- Unemployment insurance
- Workers compensation
- Sick leave
- Equal wages
A welfare state will also create, maintain, and run public transportation, child care, public spaces, and a variety of other amenities for its citizens. Some of the government programs are paid for through the use of government insurance programs while many others are funded through taxing the citizens.
The majority of developed nations are not really welfare states. This is true even though many provide at least some sort of social service or entitlement program to the citizens. In a true welfare state, the services and goods are available to everyone, whereas in the developed quasi-welfare states, the entitlement programs and goods are available only to people who meet the eligibility requirements. Developed countries provide safety nets to the people as opposed to taking care of all of their needs.